Vermont is a great place. It makes you think healthy, outdoorsy, organic. It is all of that and that’s what makes it great, but as it turns out it’s an especially great place if you are VEGAN or VEGETARIAN (oops), maybe not so great if you are gluten free and thrive on animal protein.
College food can be challenging for anyone but it’s really challenging if you are someone who is gluten free. My daughter knew the food thing was going to be tough, she didn’t realize just how tough until she was at school for a few days.
The spring and summer before leaving for school my daughter made a huge effort to remove all grains and processed foods from her diet (it really is the easiest way to go gluten free). Her efforts were rewarded. She finally learned what it felt like to feel good. She had felt sick her whole life. Once she cleaned up her diet and started eating whole, organic foods she felt great (lost weight, no more flaky skin, no more exercise induced asthma, no more reflux, the list goes on). She was ready to leave for school. She knew what and how to eat to support her health. It’s all about making good choices. UVM is a big school with lots of dining options. They even offer gluten free food. She was excited, it was going to be great.
It is great. School is great. She loves her classes and she’s doing really well. The food situation, not so great. She found out very quickly that you can only make good choices if there are things to choose from. There were plenty of vegetable options but not a lot of protein options. The gluten free options tended to be processed snacks and cereal. Gluten free processed foods are weird. They do weird things to your system. Not a great choice but at least she wouldn’t starve. First semester was rough.
My daughter learned to self advocate in elementary school. It’s a great skill and it will serve her well through life. She’s not pushy or bossy or loud. She’s friendly, polite and appreciative. She got to know the dining hall staff. They were wonderful. They knew her food limitations and they would put food aside for her – mostly holding back plates of food so sauces weren’t added (all the sauces and soups have wheat in them – bummer). There are a lot of people at UVM and I’m sure many have different food requirements. I’m in awe of the dining hall staff – remembering an individual kid. I’m sure they did it for more than my child which makes it even more amazing.
Anyway, the point of my whole story is to stick to your guns. Do what you need to do. Don’t compromise your health because your options aren’t great. Find a way.
First semester was tough but with the help of some great people it was o.k. The one thing I didn’t mention about my daughter is that she isn’t shy. She put suggestions and comments in the boxes of all dining halls throughout the entire first semester. It worked!
She just called to tell me that she received e-mails from several of the dining halls letting her know that they read all of her comments and suggestions and that they are going to have a protein option at all meals as well as more gluten free choices. Awesome!
Today for lunch they served Spicy Cheeseburgers with a side of Rice Chips. Pretty cool! It’s also a little sad that I think a spicy cheeseburger and rice chips is a great lunch. College, it is what it is.
Eat Well, Feel Great, Have Fun!
Amy White MS HNC
I am a holistic nutrition counselor and believe real food is the true path to wellness. If you are interested in learning more about me and how I can help you, please see my story.
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